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Links 2/13/12

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If you are on RSS or an e-mail subscriber, you are getting only partial Links. I’m not done as of the daily e-mail blast, so I’m posting now to make sure you all get your Antidote. Please check back after 7:45 AM or so to get the completed version. I also have another post in process that will go up soon.

Man in zebra suit ‘tranquilised’ in zoo drill Sydney Morning Herald (YY)

Sea slug’s ‘disposable penis’ surprises BBC. Richard Smith: “IIRC (and contradicting the researchers above) there are in fact certain ducks with a similar feature; they discard it for the winter months and regrow it in the spring.”

Study questions eco-benefit of vegetarian diet; we question study Grist

‘Horsemeat? I think I’ll give it a try’ say Britons Sydney Morning Herald

Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Humans’ Deadly Ills New York Times. Richard Kline flagged this yesterday and furzy mouse today. This is a big deal.

Coca-Cola drinking ‘linked to New Zealander’s death’ BBC (furzy mouse)

Is it time to ban autonomous killer robots before it’s too late? ExtremeTech (furzy mouse)

Intel to launch internet-based TV service Financial Times

The history of Australian property values MacroBusiness. Wow, have a look at the charts.

Report: Russia Hemorrhages $211.5 bn+ in illicit outflows 1994-2011 via Cyprus “Laundry Machine” Tax Justice (Richard Smith)

Prosecuting the Messenger: Chief Greek Statistician Threatened with Jail Der Spiegel

A Conspiracy of Stupidity Tom Engelhardt

The state of our union is … dumber Guardian (mary)

Industrial Hemp Farming Legislation Reintroduced In Congress Norml

You Should Be Outraged By What Is Being Done To Our Postal Service David Johnson

Cops Accused of Starting Fire as Charred Body Found in ‘Dorner’ Cabin Gawker. Assuming that’s him, you knew the cops were never going to allow him to be taken alive.

Where The US Top 5% Live Global Sociology

Retail Sales Rose in January as U.S. Consumers Sustained Growth Bloomberg. There was bizarre speculation that it would be a much bigger number yesterday. Wonder who was trying to paint the tape.

A banker’s millions won’t save a life Guardian

The non-precedent setting, own-law making, secretive CDS committee is having a seriously bad month Lisa Pollack, Financial Times

The case for helicopter money Martin Wolf, Financial Times. He really means fiat for all, as in more public spending rather than letting banks decide who gets the benefit of more fiat creation. And Wolf (following one of our big faves, Claudio Borio, and Post Keynesians generally) takes up the “loans create deposits” line too.

Antidote du jour (Francois T):

And a bonus antidote (YY):


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155 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    David Johnson:

    ‘In 2006 Klingons in the Congress pushed through a requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund 75 years of retiree costs. The Postal Service has to pay now for employees who are not even born yet. No other government agency — and certainly no company — has to do this.’

    [Actually he didn't say 'Klingons,' but you know how these D vs R troglodytes think.]

    Here is where the fairly-common 75-year horizon actually comes from. Say an employee joins an organization at age 20, stays for her whole career (unusual as that would be these days), then lives to age 95 in retirement. It adds up to 75 years, and thus covers the whole life cycle of nearly every employee.

    Contrary to what Dave says, the 75-year horizon has nothing to do with ‘employees who are not even born yet.’ It applies to current employees who are vested in benefit plans. Private companies use an infinite horizon rather than 75-year cutoff, but it makes no practical difference as few people live to 100.

    Let’s do a back-of-the-envelope to illustrate the process. Say a 25-year-old employee making $50,000 has worked five years and is now vested. Only a partial pension is payable when one has worked only a few years, according to a formula.

    If the partial pension is $10,000 a year and 20 years of pension payments are assumed, that amounts to a $200,000 liability centered 50 years in the future. Discount $200,000 to the present assuming an 8 percent return on benefit plan assets [too high, but common] and it equals $4,264 in today’s dollars that need to be contributed to fully fund this obligation — or 8.5% of the employee’s salary.

    Is that so draconian? Not when compared to a 15.3% annual contribution to Soc Sec, which can be assumed to compound at ZERO percent.

    Math, Dave. It’s what’s for breakfast!

    1. from Mexico

      Jim Haygood says:

      Math, Dave. It’s what’s for breakfast!

      Here, let me correct that for you:

      Spin, Jim Haygood. It’s what’s for breakfast!

      And sometimes the spin, and the double standards, are enough to knock one over from the dizziness they cause.

      Let’s take a look at the private sector:

      ***beginning of quote***
      •Nearly 80% of the private pension plans covered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., or PBGC, are underfunded, to the tune of $740 billion. The news is even worse among the nation’s largest companies. Only 18 defined benefit pension plans offered by companies in Standard & Poor’s 500 benchmark are fully funded.
      http://money.msn.com/retirement-plan/is-your-pension-safe-weston.aspx
      ***end of quote***

      And yet no one is talking about forcing any of those in Standard & Poor’s exclusive club into bankruptcy for failure to fully fund their pension funds.

      Why do you reckon that is?

      1. David Lentini

        Exactly what I was thinking, Mexico. And don’t forget that the burden put on the Post Office is from the total of all the limitations and requirements foisted by Congress.

        If competition is so helpful, then why won’t Congress let the Post Office compete fairly with the private sector? Why is Congress so concerned to stack the deck in favor of a more expensive private system?

        1. AbyNormal

          what more proof does one need other than its happening on the Dems watch? Cancelling Saturday delivery service should open the eyes of anyone expecting medical & prescription deliveries. (or close their eyes for good)

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You are all right, though it’s not about private vs public pensions, nor defined benefits vs not.

            There should be one plan for all.

          1. diane

            You’re very welcome, thank you too, Montana Maven! This issue has me despairing and outraged, and it seems there’s way, way too little being clearly stated about it.

      2. rjs

        private pensions? what private pensions?
        “companies have slashed and burned their way through their employees’ benefits, leaving former workers either on Social Security or destitute — and taxpayers with a huge burden that, as the baby boomer generation edges towards retirement, is likely to grow.’…”Over the last decade, some of the biggest companies — including Bank of America, IBM, General Motors, GE and even the NFL — found loopholes, abused ambiguous regulations and used litigation to turn their employees’ hard-earned retirement funds into profits, and in some cases, executive compensation”

        when it’s all said & done, USPS will the only ones with a solid plan..

      3. Jim Haygood

        ‘No one is talking about forcing any of those in Standard & Poor’s exclusive club into bankruptcy for failure to fully fund their pension funds. Why do you reckon that is?’

        A count of pension plans is less meaningful than their aggregate funding status. According to the USPS inspector general, ‘the average Fortune 1000 company’s pension plan is funded at 80 percent.’ [page 3 in this link]

        http://www.uspsoig.gov/foia_files/FT-MA-12-002.pdf

        No one is talking about forcing the Fortune 1000 into bankruptcy because by law, they have seven years to make up the shortfalls, most of which were caused by portfolio losses during 2008.

        Be aware that the ‘percent funded’ status is quite volatile on an annual basis. When markets rise rapidly as they have during 2009-2012, some pension plans will become overfunded.

        The USPS pension plan’s overfunded status spares it from needing to make any contributions this year. But its health benefits are not in such great shape (again quoting from the inspector general’s report):

        The Postal Service is currently funded at 49 percent for retiree health care benefits, as of September 30, 2011, and is obligated to prepay $33.9 billion through 2016 [$11.1 billion in FY 2012 and an average of $5.7 billion between 2013 and 2016].

        So Dave’s breast-beating about the ‘overfunded pension plan’ is highly selective. What he didn’t tell you is that while the pension plan is overfunded by $13 billion, the health plan is underfunded by a total of $46 billion (Figure 4, page 5, inspector general’s report).

        Math, Dave. Time to lick your breakfast off the floor!

        1. from Mexico

          Jim Haygood said:

          So Dave’s breast-beating about the ‘overfunded pension plan’ is highly selective. What he didn’t tell you is that while the pension plan is overfunded by $13 billion, the health plan is underfunded by a total of $46 billion (Figure 4, page 5, inspector general’s report).

          So you got your dick knocked in the dirt talking about pension plans, so you thought you’d pull a switcheroo and change the conversation to one about retirement health benefits.

          Wrong move.

          Because once again, the private sector is leading the way on how to solve that pesky little problem. It’s so easy! Just eliminate retiree health benefits altogether.

          In 1988, 66% of large firms offered retiree health benefits.

          In 2012, 25% of large firms offered retiree health benefits.

          But those figures are higly skewed by the fact that state and local government workers are included in those figures, and 77% of state and local government workers still receive retirement health benefits. By comparison, in the retail sector only 9% of workers still receive retirement health benefits.

          http://ehbs.kff.org/pdf/2012/8345.pdf

        2. from Mexico

          It should also be pointed out that the requirement for governmental bodies to pre-fund future retiree health benefits is something entirely new, brought about not by any concrete changes on the ground, not by elected officials, but by changes in accounting rules made by bureaucratic fiat.

          The changes are known as Statments 43 and 45 by the Government Accounting Standars Board. They were announced in June of 2004.

          Here’s the “Pronouncement” by the technocrats decreeing the change in accounting rules:

          http://www.gasb.org/st/summary/gstsm45.html#

          “Pronouncement.” Not by our king. Not by our dictator. But by petty bureaucrats. Isn’t our dictatorship of technocrats grand?

  2. David Lentini

    “. . . drank up to 10 litres of the fizzy drink each day.”

    Kind of a broad headline for such an outlier case, isn’t it? Drinking a liter of anything almost every waking hour of every day is pretty crazy.

    In fact, I recall a story back in the ’70s about a woman who became so obsessed with the idea that she had tumor that she “drank herself to death” with water–yes, water–thinking that she could “flush” the tumor out of her boday. Of course, her doctors could find no symptom of cancer, and no tumor was found on post mortem examination. Still more such stories can be found here.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for that great story.

      I believe balance is the key to life. Using too much the right side of the brain is as bad as using too much the left side.

      A useful idea is born when the right brain makes love to the left brain – that’s what I have always said.

      Let your brains make love, not war.

      Far too often, one brain rapes the other brain.

    1. from Mexico

      Dorner’s death seems to be shaping up as an extra-judicial assasination. This was not an unexpected outcome, given the police state mentality of US law enforcement these days, that is for everyone except the big corporations, who, along with the police, operate with impunity.

      I take exception to this passage from the Guardian story, however:

      Dorner had threatened to bring “warfare” to the LAPD, having claimed he had been the subject of racism when he was sacked from his job as a policeman there.An interview that LAPD police chief Charlie Beck gave may provide some answers.

      The Guardian is uncritically parroting LAPD spin. The spin came from LAPD police chief Charlie Beck, who in an interview said:

      “Dorner’s allegations are about a police department that doesn’t treat African Americans fairly.”

      http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_t3#/video/us/2013/02/10/lapd-chief-beck-on-reopening-dorner-investigation.kcal-kcbs

      But Dorner’s beef wasn’t that he was fired because of racial discrimination. Dorner said he was fired because he reported an incident of police brutality committed by one of his fellow officers. This is a quote from Dorner’s manifesto:

      ***beginning of quote***
      Unfortunately after reporting it to supervisors and investigated by PSB (internal affairs investigator) [redacted] nothing was done. I had broken their supposed “Blue Line” …

      It is clear as day that the department retaliated toward me for reporting Evans for kicking [the victim].
      ***end of quote***

      And as CNN goes on to explain:

      ***beginning of quote**
      This seems to be the impetus behind Dorner’s rage. Throughout his manifesto, he returns to the actions of one specific officer whom he reported as abusing a suspect, but nothing, he says, was done. He claims the officer and others lied to protect the truth. It seems to be Dorner’s belief that he was fired because of this, and it seems to be the spark for his larger anger toward the department.
      http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/07/us/dorner-manifesto
      ***end of quote***

      1. Skippy

        “extra-judicial assasination” – FM

        I would offer… payback with a message… an attempt usurp the authority of police officers and you will receive 10xfold pain for the transgression.

        Skippy… personally know the dark side of LAPD from 11 years living in the south bay area…. its a violent cult.

        1. Georgeann

          Government over reach has been the topic in our family, and between friends for sometime now. I am a recovering Republican, and our family would be considered conservative.

          Yet, when we talk among ourselves, we shake our heads – dismayed that a vote for Obama was date rape – none of us is gay, or illegal or on food stamps. But none of us could bring ourselves to vote for a corporate raider, since we are all small business people.

          There is nothing left for us here.. we have friends who have migrated to Chile and Costa Rica to the libertarian enclaves there.. but its not realistic while we have grandchildren.

          But I think I could migrate rather than be subject to the police state we now experience. And WE aren’t even the target populations!!! Imagine being black, hispanic or Muslim in this environment?!?

          7 former GOPers did not vote this year here in the West. None of us could bring ourselves to vote either party. My son went to the polls to vote against retaining any judge and for a few amendments. I just stayed home.

          1. Skippy

            If you think this is – government over reach – you better figure out who the polies are beholden too, clue, it ain’t you.

        2. Susan the other

          Yes. This has been going on since long before Rodney King without even the pretense of abatement. The lovely LAPD. Really want to give those guys some drones?

      2. ohmyheck

        I read a different account:

        “The officers then lobbed tear gas canisters into the cabin and blasted a message over a loudspeaker: “Surrender or come out.”

        The armored vehicle then tore down each of the cabin’s four walls.

        A single shot was heard inside before the cabin was engulfed in flames, the law enforcement official told The Associated Press.”

        So, possibly, as each of the walls were coming down, Dorner set the place on fire and then shot himself.

        One gynormous tragedy.

        1. from Mexico

          Well either way you cut it, what happened is one hell of a long way from the laudatory way the police are portrayed by TV programs like Criminal Minds.

          1. ohmyheck

            Ever-the-Optimist (me) fails again, it seems:

            “… for those of us listening to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department radio frequency, there was little question what had occurred. Nearly a half hour prior, officers had referred to “going ahead with the plan with the burner,” with another adding that the plan was to “back the Bear down and deploy the burner through the turret.” (Live audio during the preceding shootout seems to confirm this intention). Soon, the message was straightforward and expected: “Seven burners have deployed and we have a fire.” No surprised tones, no suggestion that the fire be extinguished.”

            My Bad.

        2. Skippy

          Tear gas canisters starting fires.

          Tear Gas Started Pharmacy Fire, Report Says

          May 30, 2001|By Kevin Krause Staff Writer

          The fire that gutted a Boynton Beach pharmacy during a fatal police standoff on May 20 was started by SWAT officers’ tear gas canisters, according to a report released on Tuesday. Fire investigators concluded that some of the four tear gas canisters fired at a burglary suspect inside The Medication Station on Woolbright Road touched off the fire. A police dog and teenage suspect James Connelly died in the incident.

          Yet when officers decided to use tear gas, they had only their judgment to go on. Despite the fire risk, police and SWAT guidelines do not address the issue. Likewise, no state or national fire prevention organizations have issued any recommendations.

          http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2001-05-30/news/0105300347_1_gas-canisters-police-dog-fire

          A tear gas canister is like a little rocket engine, it burns from the core outward. The heat mainly going out with exhaust, so you can hold on to them for a while. But as the burn finishes up the canister gets very hot.

          Skippy… this is a tactic, chuck in canisters and block exits, remember waco? If he shot him self it would be more likely, so as not to burn to death. He was never going to be able to testify, one way or another.

          PS. Use of tear gas in warfare (as all other chemical weapons) is prohibited by various international treaties[3] that most states have signed. Police and private self-defense use is not banned in the same manner. Armed forces can use tear gas for drills (practicing with gas masks) and for riot control. – wiki

          1. Maximilien

            Yes, it was obvious the man presumed to be Dorner was never going to get out alive. He had a story to tell, maybe the truth.

            It was also obvious to any half-awake CNN viewer that the stand-off was to be concluded by 9:00PM EST, the scheduled start of Obama’s SOTU address. The President also had a story to tell, maybe all lies.

            Bizarrely, Dorner had to be silenced so the President could speak.

            Only in America, as they say.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        I can throw in another LAPD incident for contention in the “Naaah” category.

        Around ten years ago there was a hallowean party in one of the upscale neighbors (forgot which – something like N. Hollywood). There was lots of loud music and a neighbor called the LAPD.

        It was a costume party (whodathunk) and one partier had a costume which included a plastic toy pistol. The cops said they spied him from afar (mini mansions have largish backyards) thru the back door to the kitchen and he was waving this weapon around.

        Fearing for their lives, not to mention the lives of their buddies, they opened fire. The party goer was toast.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Typos should be left alone – they make them more valuable or collection-worthy.

            That’s how it works with coins, stamps, etc.

    2. Georgeann

      Last week in Denver – Police chasing WF bank robbers choked off an intersection and DRAGGED, literally DRAGGED innocents from their cars – women, children, men – and cuffed them on the curb! I saw the whole thing on TV that night… I was visiting my family there and the entire household was traumatized.

      We all looked at each other.. I told my husband, if that had been us, I would be dead or in prison… there is NO WAY I would have submitted to such tyranny.

      That was the image in my mind when I first heard the Dornan story. I think America is at a tipping point wherein enough of us have been subjected to police state tactics, whether it’s airport dykes fingering our daughters – or an otherwise law abiding citizen spending a night in jail and tormented by institutional sadism in our prisons..

      This reader has no guns, no booze, drugs or gambling habits. I am bedrock America. And at 65, I found myself posting

      GO DORNAN GO — I have never known an honest or normal policeman. In Colorado they are all former military, come home to beat their wives and bully citizenry. If you want to see REAL evil, step out of your car at a traffic stop in Colorado Springs… the murderous skinhead who approaches is just aching to hurt you – somebody… anybody.

      I hope there is plenty of outrage in LA this week. These creeps need to be afraid of their employers…that’s US!!

      1. Georgeann

        20 to 30 innocents were stopped in a dragnet operation – men, women, children – forced from their cars – because satellite tracking of the bank cash pointed to that intersection.

        I didn’t really impress on readers how horrific this scene was. AND so far, I’ve seen little outrage in Denver papers or online. Absolutely amazing.

        THIS is what we’ve become? The constitution is toilet paper for paramilitary types and the power elite. For Wells Fcking Fargo???

        Where are the Jacobins? the portable guillotines? the bloody revolt in cities across the country?

        Will American blacks be the next beacon for liberty?

        Where is the hit squad for the cops who shot those women? Why not instant justice for those lives lost? Why are corrupt cops lives more valuable than ours?

        I’ve gone over the edge lately. I have NO criminal record.. as I said, I’m a model citizen – and so is my family. When I start talking bloody revolt and assassination… they’ve lost more of the country than they are admitting.

        1. neo-realist

          If there is so little outrage in the Denver area over the storm trooper treatment of some of its citizens, we may not be as near revolution as you believe.

          It has to get much worse.

      1. pib

        Dorner is the worm of LAPD’s conscience, manifesting itself in the only way the LAPD understands. This is the same LAPD that doctored the evidence when the CIA murdered RFK. Of all the guns that Dorner had, the scariest one he could brandish would be Thane Cesar’s old pistol. We need to revive the concept of the Secret Police, because NCS has got urban police departments so infiltrated that it’s all one big thing, and it works for John Bennett and his kleptocrat clients and it tortures and kills and kills and kills.

  3. rjs

    coca cola death story reminded me of this one from yesterday…

    Heart Attack Grill spokesman dies of apparent heart attack –  A regular patron and unofficial spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill has died of an apparent heart attack, the restaurant’s owner said on Monday. John Alleman reportedly suffered a heart attack last week outside the Las Vegas restaurant, according to the Las Vegas Sun. The 52-year-old was taken off life support on Monday. Alleman is the second unofficial Heart Attack Grill spokesman to die in as many years.

    (sorry for sharing)

  4. JGordon

    On the postal service: I wish it would just go away. I get so sick of getting endless junkmail every day, and when it’s not junkmail, it’s bills that I’ve already paid online.

    God, go away already you useless relic!

    1. David Lentini

      So what will you say when you see the bill for getting your junk mail and bills by FedEx or some other for-profit private company? What will you say when you can’t get mail from individuals or companies that are on some corporate sh’t list of some private mail carrier? What will you say when you find that you have to subscribe to a mail carrier in order to send or receive any mail at all?

      And as for your mailed duplicate bills, most businesses allow you to opt-out of mailings when you pay by Internet or phone. Indeed, many companies want to get rid of mailed bills to save money.

      1. Skippy

        How much of a moron does one have to be, when the post office is just delivering the private sectors junk.

        Skippy… Gold bug survivalists… defending a patch of land…. snicker.

      2. from Mexico

        Really. I’d like to see UPS or Fed Ex deliver a letter for 44 cents.

        It seems like the same thing happened to the USPS that happened to public schools. The private sector scraped off all the cream, and left the heavy lifting to the public sector.

        Something tells me that, when the private sector succeeds in killing off the public sector, we’ll see that heavy lifting get a lot more expensive.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think their goal is to have robot-teachers and robot-delivery-persons (by the way, maybe it’s just my 99.99% neighborhood, but I would like to see more mail-women).

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I was near Sunset last weekend to check out an estate sale.

            And an idea came to me – to encourage recycling, second hand products should be sales-tax free.

            It’s like double-taxation for the government to charge the same poor thing twice, thrice or more.

        2. Klassy!

          I cannot believe how blithely the USPS is dismissed. Do people not understand how much more expensive the other options can be and how much more expensive they will become with no competition?

        3. Heretic

          When the public sector exits, ‘for the sake of efficiency’, then the public really pays..

          I have my own example. Prior to 2008, Canada had relatively stable gasoline prices, relative to oil prices. When the price per barrel rocketed from $80 to $147 USD, Canadian gas prices (in Ontario), moved from $0.80 to $1.10/litre CAD (approximately). (FYI…we have very high gasoline taxes in Canada)Why? Perhaps it is because we still had a crown corporation called Petro-Canada, an integrated oil and gas company, that retailed directly to the public…they still have some retail outlets. It was operated profitably, but its goal was not to be hugely profitable. I have no doubt, that this company maintained excess oil extraction and gasoline refining capacity Canada, and could respond to any supply decline from the rest of the private oil industry. Hence this company balanced the pricing power of the private oil industry in canada and prevented excessive profit extraction by the Oil industry.

          Our far-sighted Prime minister stephen harper(he doesn’t deserve proper capitalization), sold this company to the private sector during the crash of 2008 at rock bottom price. Lo and behold 4 year latter, with oil at $97USD, we in Canada enjoy prices of $1.30/litre. And this company was also a pioneer in the oil sands sector.

          I recall how a friend of mine, employed in the finance sector, commented on how Petro-Canada was a laggard among oil companies. I guess it depends on the perspective one takes.

      3. Tom

        David Lentini says:
        “And as for your mailed duplicate bills, most businesses allow you to opt-out of mailings when you pay by Internet or phone. Indeed, many companies want to get rid of mailed bills to save money.”

        I would add that businesses are trying to avoid ‘proof of mailing’ statutes – like say a foreclosure notice..litigation notice, cancellation notice and other little bothers like avoiding the USPS to commit, what would have been, mail fraud if gone thru the USPS…..

      4. craazyman

        Rantorama
        Mail carriers always seem sort of happy to me. I don’t mean smiling and laughing but content in a quiet and transcending way. It’s weird. There’s this dude in Virginia with a broad brim hat in the summer with blue mailman shorts and shirt and hiking boots with white socks rumpled stylishly like the flourish of a sleeve in a renaissance portrait above the boot tops. I’ve seen him go from house to house, from yard to yard, with his mail bag and his face in the shadow of his hat. He parks his truck and then he walks around. His face — maybe Korean or Chinese — has an expression of contemplation and ease, even in the hottest summer sun. He must think all sorts of crazy shit in his head, talking to people now dead and remembering things that jump suddenly into his mind, cutting back down over the front yard to the sidewalk. But you’d never know it, it’s like he’s living in a trance of his own. It must be healthy to be outside like that all day in real light and real air and bushes and trees and birds and yellow bees flying around. Just to stare at the bees yellow on pink and white flower in the sun and then see them turn into black dots against the blue sky when they fly up. I bet he thinks about that. The postwoman in New York looks thin and grey haired but she also has a face of peace, the way she unhurriedly assigns letters to the boxes in the foyer, it’s not like she’s frustrated or annoyed or rushing to get through. If Amazon took over the postal service there’d be some kind of hysteria for efficiency and mail carriers would be timed per step, per sort, per house, per box, per pound of mail, per breath, per thought. And it would go into a database and when it came out the guy with the broad hat and hiking boots would be monitored by some zealous disciple of efficiency theory with a cultlike devotion to “the company”, watching every step and every breath, every reach into the bag. And it would stop his mind, the postman’s mind, probably and damn it up worrying about speed. And then when you look at him you just see a man working an unpleasant mechanical task, with strain, and then it would make your thoughts strain and all the trees would go away and the sky would go away and the bushes would go away and the mindstream river would go away and it would be nothing but efficiency and a laboring inside minute increments of time. I’d rather have the post office than that, even if they won’t ship my box with masking tape. Masking tape doesn’t mean that much to me. But watching a civilized man walk across a lawn with grace and purpose and his mind in the sky, outside of time, it’s a way of seeing things. I don’t think that’s something to mess around with too much. But you know they will anyway because that’s all they know how to do.

    2. rjs

      so if you hate what you get in the mail, why do you even look at it?

      im in an Amish area of Ohio where several roads dont have electricity or phone service, much less internet…there are large segments of the population that are still dependent on the mail, even if you arent…

      1. Lidia

        In my rural state, a lot of oldsters get their prescriptions by mail. FedEx would charge many times the delivery fees, more than the cost of the meds, likely enough. Most towns here (VT) revolve around the life of the P.O. for connection to the rest of the world.

    3. Tom

      Yep, JGorden can’t stand the constitution, cant stand the post office for delivering crap that some company wants him to have, cant stand a constitutional provided…economically beneficial post office.
      Hey, JGorden….whats your view on the second amendment?

    4. chris9059

      No doubt you are a Tea Partier living in the middle of nowhere. When the Post Office is gone and the “always more efficient” private sector starts charging you $5 to send a simple 1 ounce letter you may change your mind.

    5. lucky

      I LOVE the Post Office!

      I love their quality of service. I love their rates, and I love their “free” boxes.

    6. different clue

      If you don’t like it, don’t use it. Those of us who like it will continue to use it. If you are what a “libertarian” is, then “libertarians” are basically privaprofit fascist aggressionaries. Why else would you seek the demise of an organization which does not force you to buy its stamps? If you don’t want the junkmail, cancel the junkmail.

  5. kurms

    I became wary of mouse models once I accidentally discovered that there are some for binge drinking. Also, how many suicides have been reported in mouse models for depression?

    1. Maximilien

      “Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Humans’ Deadly Ills” New York Times. Richard Kline flagged this yesterday and furzy mouse today. This is a big deal.

      Furzy mouse should recuse himself from this link as he clearly cannot be objective about testing on mice.

  6. John S.

    Re: Jim Haygood’s comment

    Haygood’s comment seem to overlook two critical points.

    One, the zero compound return seems to ignore the mandatory cost-of-living-adjustments that are integral to the Social Security program — usually, a COLA program is not included private retirement plans.

    Two, the Social Security program is as safe as U.S. government bonds — the private retirement system seems to be as safe as a mortgage backed security founded on the NINJA (no income,no job,no assets) mortgage-loan underwriting programs.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s good you bring up those two points to balance Jim’s commen.

      At this point, I will settle for one plan for all.

  7. aletheia33

    re: where the wealthiest live

    i’d like to see superimposed where the nukes are and to know how close to them the wealthiest choose to establish the homes where their children will spend their earliest years. other pollution sources as well.

    1. Montanamaven

      The wealthy are now concentrated around D.C. Notice how many of the top counties are in Virginia. As far as health is concerned, I don’t think there are many places left in the U.S. that can be called “healthy”. Here in so called pristine wilderness Big Sky Country, we have coal trains rumbling through all day and night, pollution from over a hundred years of mining, and chemical fertilizers strewn over the fields, just to name a few.

    2. bobw

      Maybe I will start selling Ozark spring water in those areas, fresh water…from the fracking Fayetteville Shale.

    3. jrs

      While it’s undesireable to live in the poorest parts of a place with unequal wealth distribution (that’s where they dump the garbage!) quality of life in probably not best where the wealthy live, that’s that wealth inequality again, pricing everyone else out.

  8. Brindle

    “Silver Linings Playbook” is my favorite movie in the Oscar’s race.

    During the first quarter of the film with Pat’s (Bradley Cooper) bi-polar episodes, I found myself being uncomfortable and realized it had to do with my own experience growing up in a very dysfunctional family.

    The movie takes off with the arrival of Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). It’s hard to give her due credit without seeming totally over-the-top, but a lot of Hollywood execs would agree with this statement: Lawrence is the most talented American actress to arrive on the seen since Meryl Streep. She has a truthful emotional intensity, sense of timing and intuition and a magnetic presence that is unique among her peers. This ultimately is her picture, with excellent performances by De Niro, Weaver and Cooper.

    The film has ebbs and flows– where initially it is Tiffany shepherding the blossoming friendship/romance with Pat, then in final crazy quarter of the movie Pat is the one who is leading and being protective.
    Simply a wonderful film.

    1. ohmyheck

      I wanted to run out of the theater after the first 20 minutes. I did not find it enjoyable to watch my own life flashing on the screen. (No, I am not the Bradley Cooper character).

      I have warned others who have lived through my situation to be prepared, if they chose to see the movie. Not every story like this has a happy ending.

      The back story of by who, why and how this screenplay was written is worth looking into. Good stuff.

      It was beautifully acted, ever single performance.

      The best take-away from that movie was that we are all crazy, every single one of us, in our own individual ways.

      1. Brindle

        I also almost left the theater to after the first 20 minutes.
        Having lived through suicide attempts, attempted murder and institutionalizing of a family member as child/teenager it was hitting at experiences I would rather keep hidden most of the time.

        The script by director David O. Russel is excellent, as well as the cinematography. There is a part in first third of the film where a train whistle sounds in the distance and then in the closing scene, outside the ballroom competition, a truck horn or maybe another train sound, anyway these small little touches showed the care and touch that make SLP a great film. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but is worth checking out.

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          Haven’t seen SLP yet but I saw Amour late last week and it was awesome; especially the performance by Emmanuelle Riva.

    2. Montanamaven

      A very rich movie and David O. Russell is a master at portraying humanity warts and all with a great deal of compassion. Jennifer Lawrence is stunning. The cast of stars is the best ensemble I’ve seen in all long time. Nobody hogs the limelight. Ang Lee in “life of Pi” uses the new technologies to try to convey spiritual struggles and so also deserves an award. Django Unchained is a stunning script and uses the history of cinema to try and portray the ugliness of slavery without making us totally miserable in the process and to even laugh. I am shocked that Samuel L. Jackson was not nominated. Or Leo DiCaprio. Christoph Waltz is the lead and should be in the best actor category as should Phillip Seymour Hoffman. That leaves Jones, De Niro and Arkin as real supporting players. De Niro was quite understated and I’m glad he was honored.

      A therapist friend of mine did have the same reactions as you guys. She didn’t think she could make it through the first 20 minutes, but was glad she did.

      “Moonrise Kingdom” deserved more kudos. Bruce Willis and Ed Norton were superb supporting players.

      1. Brindle

        While waiting for SLP to start, I had 15 minutes to kill, I went in and watched a bit of Zero Dark Thirty, I will not pay to ZD30.

        I noticed the lack of any context, these Americans/CIA were just out doing their jobs in a focused and earnest manner. That they happened to be in a foreign country was just different scenery. The lead torturer could have had the Don Draper role in Mad Men or maybe be the starting QB on next years Super Bowl team, you basic big jawed, righteous American male.

        Basically the 15 minutes of ZD30 I saw was enough to see the subtext of American Exceptionalism as being a prime motivator of the movie.
        Bigelow can probably make very entertaining car commercials.

          1. Brindle

            I have not seen Argo yet, hope to. Will be interesting to see what landscape (of Iranian-US relations) it occupies.

          2. ohmyheck

            Argo—I hate to say it, it glorified the CIA and it was a terrific movie.

            Ben Affleck was excellent, the plot was nail-biting, and the best parts were that in the beginning, they provided the history of the situation in Tehran up to 1979, without vilifying Mossedegh,and making the Iranian protesters somewhat sympathetic. At the end, they showed actual footage of the embassy workers after they arrived home, and you could see that they had cast the actors because each one resembled the real person.

            What they conveniently left out was how the CIA and the U.S. subverted the democratically-elected Mossedegh in 1953, and basically caused the entire tragedy in the first place.

            Go figure…

  9. ohmyheck

    Wealthiest 5% locations—after using the intereactive tool, I would want to point out that there are quite a few counties throughout the Rocky Mountains/Intermountain West that rank very high. Since I live in one of those counties, I was very shocked to see this.

    Those counties are where the VERY Wealthy own their winter vacation homes and condos. They come from those other high-income counties and use their second or third home only part-time. Is this fact included/double-accounted for?

    All those ski resorts crank out jobs to service these vacationers and and 2nd/3rd home-owners. Before the construction crash in 2009, they were employment boom-towns. Not anymore.

    My county was affected badly by the construction crash. Too bad they couldn’t super-impose the rate of mortgage default on these individual counties.

    Notice the north border of North Dakota, where the oil boom is now happening. I have a few friends up there, and one of them charges $70 per hour as a welder. He comes home to his family every few weeks. Again, this would scew that map.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder why the 5% cutoff? Did the article say the reason for that? I would be more interested in where the 0.01% live.

      1. ohmyheck

        No San Diego County, no Los Angeles County, and no Orange County? Very hinky… my guess is that the very poor who also live in those counties bring down the over-all average. Those top-5% counties are basically small enclaves, no poor people allowed. They are gated-communities-in-waiting.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Here in La Angelless, which if not in the top 5% should be, the news is investors are fueling Southland housing gains.

      I guess those 1%-investors (you don’t need to be 0.01% for this) are happy.

      1. jrs

        Yea, that’s what it is to live with more of the 1%. Prices raised on everything so ordinary incomes can’t afford it anymore.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The scary part is that they don’t even have to live there, with ZIRP.

          They can bid up on things they don’t really use much either – look at crude, it’s almost $100 again! Perhaps they congratulate themselves for contributing to a greener world and donate all their ill-gotten gains to Uncle Sam

  10. down2long

    For those of you who, like me, relish every tiny morsel of opposition to Slimey Dimin and his lapdog SEC I offer up this little piece of good news from Reuters legal:

    SEC faces legal challenge on approval for JPMorgan’s copper ETF

    By Josephine Mason

    NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) – U.S. copper makers Southwire Co and Encore Wire Corp are launching a legal challenge against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approval of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s physically backed copper exchange traded fund (ETF).

    The companies, which say the copper ETF will inflate prices for the metal and distort supplies, filed a notice of appeal on Tuesday asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to review the SEC’s Dec. 14 ruling that gave the go ahead for the copper ETF.

    The companies contend the SEC’s ruling was “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of direction, or otherwise not in accordance with law or unsupported by substantial evidence,” said the petition signed by their attorney Robert Bernstein with law firm Eaton & Van Winkle LLP.

      1. down2long

        Thanks Lambert. I have been using “Lyin’ Dimon” but I love Slimin Dimin. ALso considered is Slimie Dimon. I hate to be unpleasant but such an a**hole using a name like Jamie seems like an effort to him sound like some innocent High Schooler instead of the devil incarnate. It offends me deeply. It seems shockingly dishonest.

  11. wunsacon

    >> Is it time to ban autonomous killer robots before it’s too late? ExtremeTech (furzy mouse)

    Here’s the problem and it’s why we can never stop the “arms race”: If we don’t do it, someone else (the trrrssts) will do it and gain the advantage over us. Can’t let that happen, can we??

    Can we stop human nature? We can’t even stop global warming or clean up the LAPD. So, no, I’m not optimistic.

    My guess is that James Cameron’s Planetary Resources is a front organization for him and few people to escape the planet on their own SS Botany Bay, ahead of us creating the Cylon Race. Good luck, Jim!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think we have to ease in a bit.

      First, we ban automonous job-killing robots.

      Then, we ban automonous killer robots.

      Or myabe we go in simultaneously, with both barrels blazing, and ask questions later.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I rather have a disposable brain.

    I understand that ‘brain implant’ is big at elite colleges.

    1. AbyNormal

      i thought it was understood the sea slug accomplishes both
      hehehehe sorrie Prime
      (you understand i couldn’t stop myself)

    2. rjs

      actually, it’s much easier to transplant a head than many other organs…Dr Robert White at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland did several successful dog heads in the 80s, & got called on the carpet by the pope for suggesting he would do people too…

        1. rjs

          a bit from wikipedia:
          In 1963, a group of scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio,[4] led by Robert J. White, a neurosurgeon and a professor of neurological surgery who was inspired by the work of Vladimir Demikhov, performed a highly controversial operation to transplant the head of one monkey onto another’s body. The procedure was a success to some extent, with the animal being able to smell, taste, hear, and see the world around it. The operation involved cauterizing arteries and veins carefully while the head was being severed to prevent hypovolemia. Because the nerves were left entirely intact, connecting the brain to a blood supply kept it chemically alive. The animal survived for some time after the operation, even at times attempting to bite some of the staff.[5]

          Other head transplants were also conducted recently in Japan in rats. Unlike the head transplants performed by Dr. White, however, these head transplants involved grafting one rat’s head onto the body of another rat that kept its head. Thus, the rat ended up with two heads.[6] The scientists said that the key to successful head transplants was to use low temperatures.[7]

  13. Lambert Strether

    If a bankster gets helicopter money, he (and I do mean he) buys a second Hermès yacht cover or maybe a few more household servants. [Adding... Or hookers and blow. How could I forget?!]

    If I got helicopter money, I’d fix my teeth and then buy a new roof. And most of the poor schlubs like me would do just the same sort of thing.

    Who’s helping the real economy more?

    * * *

    On another note, I don’t understand the difference between “Helicopter money” and “fiat for all.” I mean, I haven’t seen any helicopters dropping pallets of cash near my house, but maybe that’s some kinda accident.

    1. Tom

      “On another note, I don’t understand the difference between “Helicopter money” and “fiat for all.” I mean, I haven’t seen any helicopters dropping pallets of cash near my house, but maybe that’s some kinda accident.”

      I thought you knew…you have to live in a ‘war on terror’ zone for pallets of money to come from a helicopter.

      On a positive note: with the kill matrix coming to the USA…you may soon see that helicopter.

    2. EconCCX

      If a bankster gets helicopter money, he (and I do mean he) buys a second Hermès yacht cover or maybe a few more household servants. If I got helicopter money, I’d fix my teeth and then buy a new roof. @Lambert

      If you get helicopter money, your bankster gets full ownership of the HPM, while you settle for the bank’s IOU. While you rail about the luxuries he can procure, he’ll use his additional reserves to obtain bottleneck capital assets upon which to collect rent.

      And with every repayment of bank debt, including principal, interest, fees and rents, the banks’ IOUs (M1) are extinguished, while aggregate HPM remains unchanged. Nonbanks, including governments, are consigned to irremediable debt bondage under this dual money system. The imbalance can’t ever be remedied by changing the numbers to boost USG debt or HPM. That’s a fundamental error of MMT.

      1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

        Please amplify this sentence by sentence:

        “If you get helicopter money, your bankster gets full ownership of the HPM, while you settle for the bank’s IOU. While you rail about the luxuries he can procure, he’ll use his additional reserves to obtain bottleneck capital assets upon which to collect rent.”

        I just don’t understand what you mean. Thanks!

      2. EconCCX

        Please amplify this sentence by sentence @Joe Firestone

        Sure. The money that is created when a Federal Reserve Bank purchases Treasuries from the USG is known variously as Reserves, legal tender, Central Bank Money, base money, high-powered money or HPM. It’s a liability of the Federal Reserve System. That is, any Federal Reserve Bank is obligated to redeem it on demand for coins, the constitutionally-described money created by the USG.

        Through bond sales, coin sales and tax receipts, the USG has some reserves in its account at a Federal Reserve Bank. As you’ve acknowledged elsewhere, a Federal Reserve Bank is a privately owned bank, and the USG can’t overdraw its account there without explicit borrowing. But as sovereign currency issuer, USG is free to deposit a coin of any amount. Which coin would then become an asset of the central bank consortium, enabling USG to transfer funds to other parties through the banking system.

        Now the USG cuts a check with your name on it drawn on its FRB account. Might be your tax refund or payment for a fighter plane. You do not, and cannot, have an account at a Federal Reserve Bank. So you endorse the check over to your Commercial Bank, which does. Your commercial bank gains Reserves or HPM. Owns those reserves outright. In compensation, you gain a new increment of checkable bank debt. That’s the bank’s own contractual agreement to convey Reserves on demand to you or to anyone you designate.

        Thus as a result of the sale of a bond to the Federal Reserve Bank, aggregate reserves have increased. As a result of USG’s transaction with you, your commercial bank owns an augmented share of those reserves and has a new debt to you. You have additional Commercial Bank Money, the bank’s checkable IOU. And aggregate M1 has gone up.

        — to be continued —

      3. EconCCX

        @Joe Firestone

        This is from an October discussion here. A question to you about the PPC, spelling out the rental component in the last bullet point. Hope you can get to it.

        —–

        Joe, as you consider Paula’s question, I’m wondering if you’d walk us through the mechanics of the PPC proposal. I think your Corrente piece may have glossed over the bondholders. PPC seems a powerful way to pay off the debt and fund some needed infrastructure. Here’s my skeptical amateur’s attempt at tracing the steps. Any corrections would be most appreciated.

        * Treasury delivers to a Federal Reserve Bank twelve Proof Platinum coins, total face value $60T. FedBank takes ownership of the coins as its own asset.

        * FedBank makes the book entry to add $60T to USG’s Reserve Account.

        * USG draws down this account to pay USG employees, vendors and retirees, and also retires its debt upon maturity. Sooner, if the debt-holder prefers.

        * In each case, some tens of thousands of billions in Reserves, FedBank money, are conveyed to those who now own them. If the former bondholder has no account at Fedbank, he can take his Reserves in $100 Federal Reserve Notes; or he can create or augment an account at a commercial bank. If he does the latter, that commercial bank takes absolute ownership of the Reserves, while the customer is a creditor with spendable IOUs in the form of commercial bank deposits.

        * Now these trillions set about seeking a return. Banks, owners of the new Reserves and no longer Glass-Steagall restrained, bid against former bondholders, owners of commercial bank money, to buy farmland, businesses, buildings, infrastructure, TV networks against which to collect rent: the Hudson effect. Perhaps even some political spending or resource speculation. Banks can leverage their reserves by lending: two dollars of Reserves can meet liquidity needs on $100 of commercial bank deposits. The over-optimistic high borrower gets the asset: the Minsky effect. Some payments are taken; then the bank regains the asset through foreclosure. Every time a bank writes a check, the recipient puts the proceeds into that or another bank. So banks are able to procure real-world resources for Reserves that are forever recycled to them.

        In short: where formerly these $60T claims were deferred, sequestered, and infinitely rolled over, now they’re liquid and can be leveraged. Rehypothecated. Used for maneuvers only Yves and her ilk understand.

        MMT, in PPC mode at least, is quite friendly to the interests of the 0.01%, as I see it. Am I mistaken about this?

    3. Lidia

      Lambert, Lambert, don’t you see that the way things work in this, the best of all possible worlds, is that you go to work for one of Dimon’s many households, and then, after ten or twenty years, you *might* have enough money to fix your roof/teeth (but likely not both)?

      Trickle Down!!

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Vegetarian diet, questioning the questioners…

    Here is a bigger lesson – when some human says ‘I love vegetables,’ he, or she, means he, or she, loves killing vegetables in that little extermination camp we humans call kitchen.

    So, just be careful when humans say they ‘love’ something.

    I wonder why I wonder why I wonder….

  15. jsmith

    PCR once again lays it out.

    The innocent and the truth-tellers were prosecuted. The criminals and the liars were not. The federal judges went along with the Justice (sic) Department’s prosecutions of those who obeyed the law and did their duty and non-prosecution of criminals who clearly without any doubt violated the law, trampled upon the US Constitution, and committed felonies.

    In a police state it is always the innocent who are the most heavily punished. In his history, The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn explains that in the prison camps, the Soviet equivalent to Guantanamo and the CIA’s secret torture prisons, common criminals such as murderers, rapists, and robbers had a privileged position compared to the political prisoners who mistakenly thought that the Soviet Constitution meant something. It will be the same in Amerika.

    The destruction of truth and the law in the US is the legacy of 9/11. Both conservatives and the left-wing have bought into the government’s preposterous story that a few Saudi Arabians, unsupported by any government or intelligence agency, outwitted every institution of the National Security State and inflicted the most humiliating blow against a superpower in human history. They buy into this story despite unequivocal evidence that WTC building 7 came down at free fall speed, an event that can only occur as a result of controlled demolition.

  16. heretic

    The article from Grist concering the Carbon budget for the various diets is actually excellent news…It means we can still enjoy much animal protein and not be too deleterious to the environment provided that we switch from beef. Of course, there are still alot of assumptions in those studies that might not be applicable, depending on the circumstances… some agricultural lands (northern Alberta Canada) are only productive with grass, which is only appropriate for beef and lamb. Feeding corn to cows consumme an inordinate amount of fertilizers, energy, and antibiotics, all of which need subsidies from the government to be economical. Grass grazing cows grow slower, but the cows are healthier and prefer grass anyways, and they taste better also. End result for us, beef is much more expensive, but much more tasty and healthier to eat, and much less taxing on the environment.

  17. diptherio

    Re: Autonomous Killer Robots, from the story:

    If humans pull the trigger, there are consequences. A robotic weapon cannot truly be held accountable for committing an atrocity. Trying to hold the programmer or commander responsible for the actions of a robot presents both ethical and legal problems. This all means we could lose the ability to deter the commission of war crimes.

    Did I miss something? I was unaware that we currently have any consequences or deterrents for the commission of war crimes. Did we start abiding by the Geneva Conventions while I wasn’t looking?

    If we criminalize automated killer robots, only criminals will have them. If the 2nd Amendment doesn’t mean that I can dern well own as many automated killer robots as I want, I don’t know what it means…commie-fascist-nazi-socialists, tryin’ to tell me I can’t have no automated killer robots. This is ‘Merika, gosh darn it!

  18. Expat

    More good stuff from the Conservative government of Canada:

    “Chalk River’s spent fuel rods to be shipped to U.S.
    Move comes on heels of plan to transport toxic brew to South Carolina site” Includes a map of the route.

    Higlights
    ….”Under the program, the first, unannounced shipment of [Highly Enriched Uranium] from Chalk River [Ontario] to the U.S. took place in 2010. No details were ever released.

    “Meanwhile, the plan to transport discreet amounts of HEU liquid is attracting the most attention….

    “The lethal solution is believed to be from Chalk River nuclear laboratories Fissile Solution Storage Tank, or FISST, which holds 24,000 litres of an intensely radioactive nitric acid solution… Suspended in the solution are an estimated 175 kilograms of HEU, enough to produce as many as seven small nuclear bombs. Also present are plutonium, tritium, other fission products and mercury.

    “In 2011, the [Ottawa] Citizen revealed the tank sprang three, internal pinhole leaks in recent years and is under constant surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency for any hint of an accidental atomic chain reaction called criticality.

    “[This is a] ticking time bomb. This is the equivalent of seven nuclear explosive devices.

    ” A Feb. 25, 2011 federal ministerial memorandum, classified as “SECRET” and obtained by The Canadian Press . . .notes that intense public and media interest was generated by the 2010 CNSC hearings into Bruce Power’s plan to ship 16 generators through the Great Lakes, up the St. Lawrence River and on to Europe.

    “There may be an expectation that similar information be made public on the shipments of spent HEU fuel to the U.S., and that the CNSC hold public hearings,” said the document.

    Based on the memo, “the nuclear watchdog considers it unnecessary to hold public sessions that would allow citizens to ask questions and comment on the shipments.”

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health/Chalk+River+spent+fuel+rods+shipped/7954672/story.html

  19. Kurt Sperry

    Re: Intel to launch internet-based TV service

    Intel has no plans to break the scam and offer content on an a la carte basis. WTF? Ask consumers if they’d prefer that and an overwhelming majority would obviously opt for that–if the choice was offered.

    I can’t understand why people think nothing of paying money to watch content that is substantially advertising. If cable provided content was ad free and unbundled and available a la carte, then sure. But the way it is? Crazy. If we refused to pay for it, it would still be made available free as they need watching eyeballs to charge for advertising. They–the middlemen– need us; we don’t need them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am lucky in that I am trying to cut down on TV-set staring. Partly it’s because the show ‘Journeys in Japan’ has been sporadic lately and partly is because I simply don’t have time for that and LinkTV and trying to make/cook things, instead of buying them.

  20. diptherio

    I just got around to looking at the Hasbara Handbook from last week (or whenever). Holy buckets! Get a load of this:

    Point scoring is a method of communication that prioritises making certain points favourable to the speaker, and attacking opponents of the speaker by trying to undermine their positions. Point scoring communication ought to give the appearance of rational debate, whilst avoiding genuine discussion. The aim of the Israel activist point scorer is to try to make as many comments that are positive about Israel as possible, whilst attacking certain Palestinian positions, and attempting to cultivate a dignified appearance.

    Point scoring works because most audience members fail to analyse what they hear. Rather, they register only a key few points, and form a vague impression of whose ‘argument’ was stronger. [emphasis added]

    Well, good to know what Israel’s debating tactics are.

      1. different clue

        It could work in any setting. It could work in any direction. There has long since been all kinds of Hasbara . . . Free Trade Hasbara, GMO Hasbara, Tobacco Hasbara . . .
        Now . . . can the same methods be used aGAINST the Free Trade Hasbarists, the GMO Hasbarists, the TARP Hasbarists, the BS Obama Catfood Plan Hasbarists, etc.? Anyone can read the book, can they not?

  21. kevinearick

    You don’t believe the banking data, you don’t believe the BLS data, but you do believe the demographic data?

    Where are all those people that were inhabiting all those now empty buildings?

    Regardless of what you think about this cohort of kids, do you really believe they are going to be paying for the entitlements, or that the feedback loop is going to find its own way back to equilibrium on a gentle glide path?

    And why would you look at the US data as if it were separable from the rest?

  22. Susan the other

    Of Mice and Men. Mice fall short as test subjects: the mouse model is misleading. Because sepsis, burn and trauma do not conform. Sounds like inflamation. I wonder what the mouse genome prefers as an anti-inflammation substandce. Well I doubt it is aspirin because aspirin would fry all their brains if they ever got a serious virus. But whatever. Calling Dr. Freud: please tell us now, is sepsis cellular hysteria?? Glogging its own capillaries with its own proteins.

    Oh my god: Mouse Studies don’t actually validate anything. Because in mice, they now know, certain genes are activated while in humans certain corollary genes are fucking supressed. Like knowledge supressed by drug companies?

  23. Laughing_Fascist

    Thanks to Briansays for linking to the Osama shooter story.

    So here I am trying to figure out what orders were given to the SEALs about what exactly they were supposed to do upon finding Bin Laden. In a sane world where Osama is a major leader of AQ, the orders would be try to take him alive so we can interrogate him and get intel from the top of the organization. In an insane world, the orders would be to try to take him alive so we can torture him for years to obtain every iota of info he has on AQ. And the interrogation (or torture) might also uncover Osama’a take on the weather, maybe even Pakistan intelligence machinations, how often AQ members have sex with their wives, who helped Osama escape tora bora, how did he pull off 9-11, and other pedestrian matters of little interest.

    If shooter claimed he received either order, there would at least be some common sense underlying his claim.

    But a common sense story seems to elude us. If we are to believe the “shooters” latest iteration of the Osama story (just released), there were, uh, well, no orders. So the SEALs trained hard for the mission; a mock up of the compound was built to train in; incredible measures were taken to keep the training and mission secret; but no one thought to give instructions on what actions to take once Osama was located.

    Well ok.

    Per Mr Shooter, he went into the room and…

    “There was bin Laden standing there. He had his hands on a woman’s shoulders, pushing her ahead, not exactly toward me but by me, in the direction of the hallway commotion. It was his youngest wife, Amal.

    -The SEALs had nightscopes, but it was coal-black for bin Laden and the other residents.-

    He can hear but he can’t see.

    He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting. He had a cap on and didn’t appear to be hit. I can’t tell you 100 percent, but he was standing and moving. He was holding her in front of him. Maybe as a shield, I don’t know.

    For me, it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him. Even in our kill houses where we train, there are targets with his face on them. This was repetition and muscle memory.

    I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].

    In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.

    And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done?

    Everybody wanted him dead, but nobody wanted to say, Hey, you’re going to kill this guy. It was just sort of understood that’s what we wanted to do.”

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/The-Shooter-Part-Two-4269835.php#ixzz2KoWrOvyg

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      After having completed mergers/acquistions on Uncle Sam, it’s easy for the 0.01% to move from one department/division to another.

    2. diptherio

      Wierd…turns out I did some painting for Penny Pritzker’s cousin, Linda Pritzker, who is listed in Forbes as having a net worth north of $1.7B as of 2006. I knew she was loaded, but I had no idea how loaded. This is totally irrelevant (but interesting): Linda lives in a mountaintop compound in the Mission Valley from where she runs things for the 1000 Buddhas Garden that volunteers are now constructing, and to which the Dalai Lama will be coming next year. Linda goes by “Lama Tsomo,” and has most people convinced that she’s a spiritual person. Who knows, she might even believe it! Ha! Anyway, just had to share my brush with “greatness.” Them Priztkers sure do get around.

  24. Klassy!

    Anyone read this?http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/just-crack-80s-police-state-thrives-gun-hysteria

    the CBS news has been drumming up hysteria around the violence in Chicago and has had numerous interviews with Mayor Rahm. And, they’ve done ride alongs with the cops. I was wondering just what their agenda was. Then they had this report.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57567029/why-is-nyc-violence-rate-lower-than-other-u.s-cities/
    This was their complete moron of a security correspondent talking.
    There it is: mandatory minimums for gun possession are the sole explanation for the lower gun violence rate in NY!

    Now Glen Ford ties it all together. The Mayor wants mandatory minimums for gun possession in Chicago.
    This is exceedingly creepy how much the national news is working with Rahm to push his agenda.

  25. Hugh

    I must admit I have grown very tired of the stupidity/incompetency meme as regards our ruling classes. They begin and continue endless wars precisely so they can intervene anywhere under any pretext, so that they can loot vast sums through the military industrial complex, so they can make us fearful, focus on external enemies, and willingly sign over to them how fundamental human rights. There is nothing stupid or incompetent about any of this, only evil.

  26. bobw

    Bank Teller #1: Does this look like “gub” or “gun”?

    Bank Teller #2: Gun. See? But what does “abt” mean?
    Virgil: It’s “act”. A-C-T. Act natural. Please put fifty thousand dollars into this bag and act natural.

  27. p78

    A Dutch meat trader has emerged as a key suspect in Europe’s spiralling horse meat scandal following allegations that he was convicted as recently as last year for passing off horse as beef.

    Fasen, a director of Draap Trading Ltd, was sentenced in January 2012 for deliberately marketing South American horsemeat as halal-slaughtered Dutch beef and falsifying documents.

    Draap Trading Ltd is a Cypriot-registered company, run from the Antwerp area of Belgium, and owned by an offshore vehicle based in the British Virgin Islands. Draap spelled backwards is the Dutch word for horse.

    Despite his denials, the food trader appears to be at the centre of investigations into how horsemeat entered the European food chain. In January 2012 he received a one-year jail term, NOS reported. He allegedly falsified papers to deceive customers. A second Dutch meat trader, from the town of Oosterhoutse, was given community service, NOS added.

    “As for the Romanian supplies, they delivered 100%,” Fasen told the Guardian. “When they deliver beef, they deliver beef. No problem. When they deliver horse, they deliver horse. There is never, ever horse invoiced as beef.”

    [...] head of the Romanian food industry federation angrily dismissed the idea that recent European legislation banning horses and carts from Romania’s roads had led to a glut of horsemeat: “What was said, that Romania has been slaughtering millions of horses, is a complete aberration. Romania does not have millions of horses at its disposal to slaughter. If we had done that, perhaps we would be better off financially now.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/13/horsemeat-scandal-dutch-connection-romania

    1. Lidia

      “…recent European legislation banning horses and carts from Romania’s roads…”

      This is more awful than the meat scandal. When I practiced for my driver’s license in Italy (10 years ago) horses, carts, velocipedes, scooters and pedestrians were part of the foreseen traffic mix, except on the “autostrade”.

  28. JGordon

    “…more public spending rather than letting banks decide who gets the benefit of more fiat.”

    You are either seriously misinformed on this subject Yves, or the disparate facts that are floating around in your head aren’t gelling together very well, since I know that you are aware the US is an intensely corrupt nation.

    Hopefully I can clarify it for you a bit: practically speaking, the big banks, the corporations, and the federal government are one and the same entity. Advocating more public fiat spending is, as far as I’m concerned, an explicit endorsement of fraud, public corruption, the expanding police state, and endless war. And no, you can’t separate out the “good” stuff fiat money does from the bad. The whole of human history has shown beynond the shadow of a doubt that fiat warfare and fiat welfare are two sides of the same coin.

    1. different clue

      JGordon (Liddy? ah ha ha . . . )
      You have said you are a “Permaculture Designer” I believe.
      Perhaps if you were to tell us some of what you know about Permaculture and how you know it, and offer some good books and links on the subject, you might restore to yourself some of the commenter credibility which is beginning to ebb away.

  29. Glenn Condell

    ‘Security officials suspect that Ben Zygier, the alleged spy who died in a secret Israeli prison in 2010, may have been about to disclose information about Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports, either to the Australian government or to the media before he was arrested… the consequent crisis in Australian-Israeli intelligence relations provided the context in which the Australian diplomats did not seek consular access to Mr Zygier, who was regarded by Australian security officials as a potential whistleblower on Israeli intelligence operations.’

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/zygier-planned-to-expose-deadly-use-of-passports-20130214-2eg04.html

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